If you and your partner ever want to improve your bidding system, I can’t recommend Phil King highly enough as a bridge coach. Catherine Seale and I booked him for a few sessions in preparation for last weekend’s Lady Milne trials, and although we didn’t qualify (my mistakes are too embarrassing to mention), we both benefitted hugely from his wonderfully methodical and lucid way of explaining how certain conventions work in practice.
Phil has prepared pamphlets covering every aspect of bidding (slams, defence, competitive auctions etc.), full of real-life deals played by experts, so you and your partner can see how you fare by comparison. It’s pretty eye-opening to find just how many hands there are that leave you stumped. The consoling thing is seeing how often even experts get confused. Take this hand from the US Trials (cover up the N/S hands and bid as E/W):
You should end up in 4♥ or 6♥ (slam depends on the club finesse). But here’s how the bidding went between one of the world’s leading pairs, David Berkowitz (West) and Larry Cohen (East):
Two diamonds was a transfer and three spades was a splinter. Berkowitz’s 3NT was meant to be forcing (many experts play that once a major-suit is agreed, 3NT shows slam interest). Cohen thought it was natural and passed. It gets better. Another of the world’s best pairs was defending: Jeff Meckstroth (North) led the ♠2 and his partner Eric Rodwell played the ♠10! Having also believed 3NT was natural, Rodwell had placed his partner with Qxx…Thank God it doesn’t only happen to us mere mortals.
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